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War and Strategic Studies




Admissions requirements

Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies (mandatory), Introduction to IR and Diplomacy (desirable)


The interdisciplinary field of War and Strategic Studies examines traditional challenges to international security, i.e. challenges emanating from inter-state dynamics and the use of military force. While the popular imagination is currently captured by non-traditional security threats such as terrorism, it should not be forgotten that the modern state represents the greatest accumulation of coercive power in the history of humankind. Paradoxically, the strategic use of that power can be seen as both the backbone of international security as well as the gravest threat to it.

Yet what exactly is international security and how can it be safeguarded? Hardly a day goes by without politicians and the media invoking the concept, alerting us to (alleged) threats to our safety which emanate from states: a ‘new Cold War’ between Russia and NATO, North Korean cyber attacks, a nuclear-armed Iran, territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas etc. The ensuing debates in political circles and the wider public are often alarmist, ahistorical, and analytically muddled. Frequently, the ostensibly ‘objective’ requirements of (inter)national security and world order are used to justify exceptional measures, such as increased defence spending at home and military intervention abroad.

This course will enable students to navigate this slippery terrain by providing a conceptually rigorous introduction to War and Strategic Studies. It will investigate why, how and when states use coercive instruments – particularly, military force, economic sanctions and nuclear deterrence – to achieve their objectives. Using historical and contemporary case studies, students will learn about the causes of security competition between states and its manifestations, including wars, crises, arms races and alliance formation.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify key challenges to international security.

  • Critically evaluate the role that various forms of coercion – particularly military force, economic sanctions and nuclear deterrence – play in world politics.

  • Analyze the causes of war.

  • Assess the political and strategic dilemmas associated with the use of military force and other coercive instruments.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars, using a mix of short lectures, class discussions, group work and student presentations. During the course of the seminar, students are expected to consistently participate in seminar discussion by presenting and defending their ideas and by delivering a group presentation. The role of the course instructor is to ensure the efficient running of the discussion.


10% class participation
20% group presentation
30% mid-term exam
40% final essay


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Students are required to purchase a copy of John Baylis, James Wirtz, Colin Gray (editors) 2013 or 2015: Strategy in the Contemporary World, 4th or 5th edition, Oxford University Press.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Kai Hebel E-mail:


For the first session, students are required to prepare in two ways. First, they are to compose a list of what they judge to be the three greatest contemporary challenges to international security. They should be prepared to explain and defend their choices in classroom discussion. Second, they are to refresh their knowledge of the origins and course of the First World War by reading Michael Howard 2007: The First World War: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press. The First World War will serve as one of the key case studies throughout the course.